Levees and ferries and sloughs and bridges that go up and down

There was a commotion this evening among the fishermen and water-skiers who had been barbecuing on patios and playing cards and guitars at Snug Harbor on Steamboat Slough.

Sounds of distress heard from the water!

I had to run to the gathering crowd and explain that was Murphy’s happy swimming bark. No creature was being harmed.

They all ambled back to their lazy pastimes.

Ever since we crossed the first bridge into California’s delta, I’ve been in a world that ambles and rambles and moves with the river.

“In Delta time you say ‘three curves ahead’ when someone asks how long it will take to get there,” said Barbara Daly, a librarian/tour guide/delta activist.

When Daly had been late to meet us, I’d asked Jasmine Marinuci, a Rio Vista waitress, how long the drive from Courtland should take. She’d cocked her head and lifted one shoulder.

“Depends on whether the bridges are up or down,” she said.

There are 1,100 miles of sloughs and tributaries and 55 islands surrounded by the water that California is fighting over.

The lexicon of getting around here is new to me: levees and ferries and sloughs and bridges that go up and down.

A visitor map that Daly put together is stamped with bright pink “Not This Way!” warnings of tricky turns at about every bend of river.

We started the day off in my favorite way – with no particular agenda. But before you knew it, we’d bumped into a mayor, gotten entangled with an invasive species choking the waterways, hung out at a bar with 353 stuffed and mounted heads of wild animals and tripled our already unusually high rate of U-turns.

Tomorrow we could watch the pear harvest or navigate the estuary by boat or meet up with a family whose fate rides on wind-surfing.

I have so many things to write. But first, before the night gets any darker and these nightly winds any stronger, I’m going to sit on an old wooden dock and try to feel delta time.

There are stories coming – three curves ahead.

Source: drylandsca.latimes.com ~ By Diana Marcum

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